Marco Silva is demanding more aggression and more concentration from his players at set pieces, to improve a shocking record of shipping 14 goals this season from deadball situations.
But the Everton manager insists his system is not at fault as Championship strugglers Millwall took advantage of poor defending to score from three set pieces on Saturday and end the Blues FA Cup hopes.
And the Portuguese coach went into detail about how his team defends deadballs – and where they have been falling down.
“To be clear, when you ask me about zonal marking you are asking about free-kicks also?” he said.
“Because we conceded our first goal from a free-kick (on Saturday) and you don’t see one club going man to man at those situations.
“If I remember correctly maybe one club in the Premier League does that. Normally we don’t do it and 99 per cent of clubs in the Premier League don’t do it.
“But to be clear, whether you use man to man or play zonal marking, what you need to do differently is you have to be more aggressive, which is something we didn’t do in the last game.
“We have to be more aggressive.”
A lack of aggression and focus cost Everton their first goal at the weekend, with six feet three inch Jake Cooper losing six feet four inch Yerry Mina from a standard free-kick into the box and then Lee Gregory evading Lucas Digne to head the second ball over a poorly positioned Jordan Pickford.
Silva explained that his coaching team’s homework and his defensive set up was perfect, but individual errors cost the goal.
“When we lost that first ball from the free-kick, our player fighting for the ball with the Millwall central defender was Mina – our tallest player on the pitch,” said Silva.
“We knew the Millwall No.5 would attack the ball which is why we put Mina in that position. Mina was there, but he lost.
“Of course we then had to prepare to be more aggressive for the second ball and that moment is more a matter of focus. It is clear if you play man to man or zonal and if you don’t have the right focus you can forget it.
“We lost the first challenge with our tallest man on the pitch.
“We need focus, concentration and to be more aggressive. What I am 100 per cent sure is that they (Everton players) knew everything about the opponents and what they would do in that moment. They had all the details about our opponents.”
With many fans pointing the finger at the system of ‘zonal marking’ again, Silva also explained that from free-kicks his team uses a hybrid of both zonal and man-to-man systems.
“Zonal marking we do, and sometimes one or two players go man to man,” he said. “That’s what we did with Millwall, with Mina going man to man with one player and Gylfi going man to man with the other.
“Free-kicks are a little different.
“We do something different at free-kicks with some man-to-man also. Of course when something happens, and if you look at all the set pieces on Saturday, it wasn’t just our first ball. They scored in second moments also, which meant we lost the first ball and lost concentration on the second.”